The facts surrounding autism causes are both indefinite and mysterious. Although no clear cause of autism has been found, there are commonalities that enable detection and diagnosis. It is known that the brains of people with autism have abnormalities that are not seen in non-autistic people. An autistic brain acts and looks different from an ordinary brain. That is an accepted fact.
The confusion lies in the three main theories about what causes autism: genetics, environmental factors and medical conditions. Research and examination has shown that some or all of these things may cause autism, but much more information is needed before any definite conclusions can be reached.
Autism causes: The genetics theory
It is not clear what causes an autistic gene to appear or mutate. Some scientists think a group of unstable genes is responsible for autism. These genes impede the brain's development during the first few years of life, and then they rearrange themselves in a way that interferes with the proper realignment of the brain tissue. If this is the cause of autism, today's medicine does not have a cure. It is possible, however, that genetic screening can determine parents who would be predisposed to having an autistic child.
Autism causes: The environmental theory
It is also thought that environmental factors play a part in the development of autism. Although there is not much conclusive research in this area, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry claims that no link has been found between autism and chemicals or toxins found in the environment. This does not mean that no link exists, though. It is possible that researchers have not yet found the connection. It is hard to imagine that the environment does not play some role in autism when you consider all of the toxic contaminants that can be found in our air, food and water.
Autism causes: The medical condition theory
Certain medical conditions are yet another possible factor in autistic development. A high occurrence of autism has been found in children who have been diagnosed with both tuberous sclerosis and congenital rubella syndrome. Two other conditions that have been linked to autism are PKU, or phenylketonuria, and fragile X syndrome. Although there is no proven correlation between these physical conditions and autism, there is enough suspicion to make it worthy of more research.
Although none of these three theories have been proven, there is enough known information to warrant diligent research. There has to be a reason why some children develop autism, and thorough study is the only way to find out what that reason is.
There are some who will lay the blame for autism on the parents, but it is wrong to fault anyone until more research confirms what causes a child to be autistic. It is easy to say it must be something the mother did during pregnancy, like smoking, drinking or drugs, but there is no proof that any of these things causes autism. Instead of blaming and accusing, understanding must abound, so that the victims of this disorder can be helped and a cure can be found.